March 30, 2007

If You Were To Die Tonight.....

How many Gospel presentations have we heard using that line. If you'd like to read a thoughtful take on why that line may not work and may not at all be appropriate, then you'll want to read this blog entry.

Also, if you're looking for a good podcast that's discussion based, then you need to check out The White Horse Inn. The audio for their podcasts can be found here.

If you're wondering what the White Horse Inn is, you'll download the podcast and they'll tell you. The audio requires a free registration but the few discussions I've listened to have been really good.

March 29, 2007

A Great Post About What Sin Really Is

If you're not a frequent reader of this blog, you would probably find it a nourishment to your soul.

Tim Challies has a great post yesterday about the real nature of unbelief...

Things A Father Can Teach You

As most of you know, I am a huge John Piper fan. His weekly church newsletter called "Taste & See" is a treasure trove of biblical truth for those that care to read them.

His article this week was about things he had learned from his father. His dad, a longtime evangelist, had recently passed away and he wanted to share what he had learned as he read through his father's papers.

In that same vein, I wanted to share some things that I have learned from my dad. He's a good man, a former Marine, who grew up with nothing. He's made his mistakes for sure, but he's also a dear friend of mine now. It wasn't always that way, but I've really come to love and appreciate him more in these recent years. Below are the things that I believe my dad has taught me:

  1. Do the right things, the right way, and money and success will never cease to follow you.
    • "Although I'm not doing what I'm doing now for either of the reasons above, the principle is still very much the same. I think what my dad was getting at was to do things with excellence. Do them as hard as you can, as well as you can, and you'll never have to regret anything in your life."
  2. If you're going to let a man put food on your table, then you better be willing to do whatever the man asks you to do.
    • Oh how I wish young people today would learn this attitude. My dad knew that in the end, if you work for someone, you are to do what they ask. If you don't want to do what they ask you to do, then find another place to work. He's a very wise man from the country sticks of Missouri, but he knew that to be obedient is a priceless virtue.
  3. Think about what you're doing
    • Don't just off half baked and start something and then leave it half-finished. Do it right the first time. Take pride in your work and who you are as a person. Make sure you never have to be ashamed of the life you've lived.
  4. Be Generous
    • My dad is one of the most generous people I know. He is always the life of the party and he always wants to be the host of the party. He's always been hospitable and he's always given anybody anything they've ever asked of him. He's a model of giving away what you have and enjoying life with other people. My dad is a unique person in that he never wants to be alone, but yet he finds pleasure in solitude.
  5. Never talk politics or religion
    • Ok, so I'm letting my dad down here. I don't talk politics much, but my faith is who I am and what I do. I want to talk about it and I want to share it. I hope he can forgive me for not being obedient to this one.
You know as I look at the list above and think about it, I can see Biblical principles my dad was teaching me even though he didnt' know it and wasn't a tremendously religious person himself. I love him dearly. And I think he's happy as he lives in his 60's. Here's a picture of him and his new wife Janice. They are great people and they are loving life together right now. Thank you Dad, for all that you've taught me and for the friend that you have been, are, and will continue to be.

March 28, 2007

Wednesday Morning Thoughts

So after our devotion time this morning, a couple things came to mind that I wanted to share. As I listened to the nice lady from American Cancer Society speak, I couldn't help but think back to my own struggle with the loss of my stepmom to cancer some five years ago.

It was a hard time in our lives and I remember my main goal for her at that time was to "beat it". I wanted her to "win" over cancer and those same thoughts came back today as I listened. But from a Biblical perspective that really shouldn't be our goal at all.

1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do (living, dying, sleeping, walking, running, etc), do ALL unto the glory of God.
The question isn't whether or not we're going to die, we all are going to do that. The real question is when we do die (accident, cancer, heart attack, stroke), will we die to the glory of God and will we see the glory of God in our death. Will we truly resonate with Paul and say that to live is Christ but TO DIE IS GAIN. Do we look forward to the life ahead.

With that in mind, I'm posting links to two articles that I think are really good on this topic

March 27, 2007

The Emergent Church - Orthodox Or Off Base?

Certainly a question that needs to be answered and my first post on the Jonah Syndrome was right after the Desiring God National Conference "The Supremacy Of Christ In A Post-Modern World"...

I've heard a lot about a book named Velvet Elvis and it's author Rob Bell. There are those who are particularly fond of Mr. Bell. I must confess, I've never read anything he's written, listened to a sermon, or met the man. But I will say this...based on reviews like this, I don't think I would like the experience much...

So which is it: Orthodox? or Off-Base?

I've Finished Reading "Twelve Ordinary Men"

Overall, a fairly good book. John McArthur does a good job of portraying each of the apostles as they are represented in Scripture. At the beginning of this book, he issued the challenge of being able to name all twelve. I could have come close, missing probably one:

  1. Simon Peter
  2. Andrew
  3. James
  4. John (The Disciple Whome Jesus Loved)
  5. Phillip
  6. Matthew
  7. Nathaniel
  8. Thomas
  9. Judas (Not Iscariot)
  10. Thaddeus
  11. James The Less
  12. Judas Iscariot

I thought the book was a decent biographical portrayal, but WAY TOO MUCH verbiage spent on the ordinariness of the apostles. Anyone, who has studied the Bible at all, would know they were ordinary men. Addressing that at the beginning of the book would have been great and then just sticking to the bio sketches, but McArthur for some reason felt the need to HAMMER that point over and over again in each chapter dealing with each Apostle. Once again, not bad, just overkill.

One thing I did appreciate was the inclusion of early church tradition as to what happened to each of the 12 post-Pentecost. Also, as usual, McArthur did a good job of explaining tradition, customs, and context of the time at which the Bible took place. A good read and a quick one (198 pages)

March 26, 2007

Overcoming Sin And Temptation - Chapter 5

Chapter five focused on the nature of mortification, and more importantly, defining what mortification is not. We seem to live in an "I'm sorry" society (me included) and in the very act of saying "I'm sorry" somehow believe that we have dealt with a particular sin in our lives.

If we have a lust problem, we apologize vehemently to God for wrong thoughts, looks, actions and after an appropriate amount of self-disdain and self-punishment, consider that adequate as "having dealt with our sin".

What's amazing in Chapter Five is the indictment of our current church culture, even though Owen wrote this book long ago. In describing what mortification is not, here are the words he uses:

Mortification is NOT the Dissumulation of Sin - I think I need not say it is not the dissumulation of a sin. When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former iniquity he has added cursed hypocrisy, and is now on a safer path to hell than he was before. He has got another heart than he had, that is more cunning, not a new heart, that is more holy.
I mean WOW, if you let that statement sink in and filter it through your Christian experience, it is amazing what an insight that really is. How many "sinners" trade in their outward "heathen" sins for the more acceptable "Christian" sins of apathy, elitism, isolation, snobbery, selfishness, bigotry, self-exaltation, pride, etc.

And if you'll search out your experience, you will probably find a time in your life when you traded in drinking, smoking, promiscuity, profanity, etc and all of a sudden for a new "disdain" for those who were unable to conquer that particular sin. You found a new way to "elevate" yourself about lostness because you had "put to death" all the sins of the former life.

Take heed for what Owen is saying here, for he is far more right than you know. More to come in Chapter 6 - What mortification IS!

Affliction And Hope - Emulating Jesus In A Dark, Dying, and Decaying World

This was my personal theological statement regarding "evangelism" for my Theology Of Evangelism class.

I want to start out this assignment by violating one of its regulations. I do so, for clarity’s sake, and I pray you’ll give mercy on doing so. The text I want to build my statement around is Colossians 1: 24 - 25

  • Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known (ESV)

The piece of that passage that I would like to focus on here at the outset is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. This passage, as best I can tell, is not a “cornerstone” evangelism passage per se. There really is no charge here to “go and share with a neighbor”. No charge to “go to the uttermost parts of the Earth”. No charge to “make disciples of all nations”. So imagine my surprise as I was pondering this assignment to see God open up “evangelism” to me in this passage.

On the surface, it appears here that Paul makes a truly devastating statement. To suggest that somehow what Christ did on the cross was deficient is at best heretical, and at worst, evil. I don’t like the fact that newer translations edit this wording out because I think it is critical to wrestle with the particular words of this passage. What could possibly be “lacking” in Christ’s afflictions. Was the atonement incomplete? Was the suffering not harsh enough? Were his wounds not “deep” enough so as to leave something left for us to do as the church? To be honest, I didn’t understand this at all. One day though, the connection was drawn for me as I was preparing to teach a Sunday School class. And when I saw the connection, it was amazing what the implications were and are for us today.

If you flip back to Philippians 2: 19-30, you’ll read the story of Epaphroditus and Paul uses almost the same “terminology” to describe how Epaphroditus “completed what was lacking in the Philippian church’s service to Paul. So what was it that was lacking?

It was the presentation of their gifts to Paul! (Philippians 4:18)

Here they were, a church hungry to serve Paul, loving in every way, hearts full of joy and sacrifice for this wonderful missionary. They prepare gifts for him to receive and they are lacking one thing. It wasn’t that the gift was somehow deficient. It wasn’t that the gift wasn’t a great gift. In fact, Paul calls it a “fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” The only thing they needed was someone to give it to Paul. A gift prepared but not given is no gift at all. So Epaphroditus “finishes” the gift by delivering, through much suffering, to Paul in prison and the analogy here to Jesus is stunning.

Everything Jesus accomplished on the cross was perfect. His blood, holy and divine, washed away all sin for those that would believe on Him. He made peace for us with God. He removed all condemnation for those whom He would call. He threw open the doors of paradise and bid us to come in for we no longer stood as objects of wrath, but of love. He reconciled ALL things to himself. His work was perfect and complete. But now, it only lacked one thing. It needed to be presented to the world.

We are told of one man who stood facing the cross that day in Mark 15:39. He was a centurion and when he saw the crucifixion unfold before his very eyes. When he was witness to the most amazing event in all of eternity past and present. When that reconciliation had finally arrived, he stood facing the cross and his words echo throughout history and oh that we in churches would see millions of people say these very words: Truly this man was the Son of God”!

He saw it. He didn’t have to have someone tell him the story of it. He didn’t have to read about it on pieces of paper or through electronic sound waves on his IPOD. He saw it with his very own eyes and there was only one conclusion that he could come to. Jesus was God and it was an instantaneous conversion. And immediately after the event ended, the challenge of “evangelism” began. If the whole world could have looked on and seen this for themselves, evangelism would not be necessary. Our challenge today is that we can’t “re-create” that event. We can’t put Jesus back up on a tree. We can’t crucify him all over again for the world to see. We can’t put spikes through His hands. We can’t pierce him and let blood and water flow. We can’t see him be abandoned by His Father. As has been said so many times in history, “the moment has passed”. And now we are left with a task so great, that human words and expressions cannot even approach doing this “eternal earthquake” justice.

But yet this is our solemn charge and our solemn duty as believers in Christ. “We have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, and the lives which we now live, we live by faith” (Galatians 2:20) We are to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions by being the presentation of that cross to the world. Whether in our life, or in our death, may God be honored in us the same way he was honored and appeased at the cross.

So the challenge of “evangelism” is for us to live and speak in such a way, that we are living, current, and real manifestations of the cross. We, although small in stature and iconic in comparison, are to be tangible expressions of the great transaction of eternity. In our teaching, in our living, in our dying, in our suffering, in our praying, in our being, we are to be Christ up on that cross for the world.

At the end of the day, the cross has one real and passionate message and it is this: He died for his enemies, those who were alien in mind and hostile to God. He died for those who didn’t love him back. He died to bring glory to the Father. He died for a people that when left to themselves, have turned their back on Him since the start of creation.

And we must let this Gospel capture us. We must let this Gospel capture the nations and the only way that it is going to do that is if the people of God, by the grace of God, declaring the truth of God, are willing to die for their enemies. That is what happened at the cross and it was not deficient. It simply needs to be presented today. And the thing that is thwarting the cause of Christ in the world is NOT that the work of Jesus at the cross wasn’t sufficient, but rather that those who are to be the “replays” of that moment are a poor re-run in comparison. We have failed in many respects, throughout history, because we have not presented suffering and dying for our enemies to the world, but rather hatred, bigotry, arrogance, elitism, snobbery, apathy, injustice, conquest, self-preservation, colonization, slavery, homicide et all. Throughout history, Christians have missed the message of the cross and the power of that moment. If we are to see the Gospel capture the world, we too must be ready and willing, by the grace of God, to be put upon a cross for our enemies. Even if we are wrongly accused, even if we are falsely tried, even if we are whipped, beaten, mocked, spurned, hated, and pierced, we are to present that day to the world as closely, and exactly as we can. Jesus did not reach down from the cross and smite those who stood in opposition to Him. He prayed for them, and sought their reconciliation with the Father. Oh Lord, how long, will you hide this truth from those who bear your name today?

But if the story ends there, we are left with a man who was simply a man. And we are left with a story that ends tragically not triumphantly. And thus, we need to talk about the second facet of what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. And that is hope:

who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,…” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus didn’t go to the cross simply to die, but to rise. He knew through the cross that he would open up joy to the whole world because we would no be free to commune with the Father. We would be at peace with a God whom we had dishonored. We would free to enjoy him forever. We would be free to focus on eternity rather than now. We would be free to take risks because dying would be gain. We would be free to live as though our home were not of this world. We would be free to love radically because death from our enemies would dispatch us to paradise. We would be free to give up all things as trash, for the sake of knowing and enjoying Him. This was the reason that Jesus endured the cross. This was the reason that He died.

And so we come face to face with our other end of the stick in “evangelism” and that is to live in such a way, and to talk in such a way, and to die in such a way, and to suffer in such a way, and to eat in such a way, that we point to the joy that is set before us. We don’t endure our cross here and now just because we like pain. That is not it. We endure the cross with Jesus because of the joy that is set before us by Him, by His grace, through our faith in Him. We must, if we are to see the Gospel capture the world, live in such a way that it is truly said of us and we truly feel in our hearts “to live is Christ, but to die is gain.

We must not make this an intellectual battle. That’s not to say that we retreat from contending for the faith. But if people groups are to be reached, if nations are to be baptized, if converts are to be seen, then we must point our lives towards God and eternity. We must pray from God to break us of our dependence and security of this world. We must pray that God would make us real and authentic. We must pray that the blood of martyrs not be spilled in vein

In the end we must pray that as we die here on Earth, or live here on Earth, that someone would look on and in that moment say “Truly, this man, was a believer in Jesus” and thereby themselves say, “Truly he (Jesus), must be, the Son of God.” There is not other way and the world will not be won with words alone. Evangelism must be much more holistic than that. It must be richer than that. It must be more full than that. Jesus didn’t stop at words, he offered up his life. We as his followers, must be willing to do no less.

The Case For Teaching The Bible here's an article you wont see everyday!

So what gives? Are we running God out of the schools or should we rush to put Him back in? Is this class a good thing? Should we have a Quaran Literacy Class as well? Maybe a Mormon 101 class for freshman.

An interesting turn of events to say the least.

March 22, 2007

It Was Hole #15 - And I Was This Close

Off the tee box on a 300+ yard par 4..I was calm under pressure. I was steady. I was ready for what was sure to be an eagle. And after all that..I 3 putted and took a par.

But it was a great spiritual lesson because as I celebrated my mighty drive, I still failed on the hole. And my life is the same. As I celebrate my great victories, I am humbled and reminded of my weaknesses and inabilities. Golf is a humiliating and humbling game. It is a game that is great for your spiritual walk.

March 21, 2007

When Someone We Love Leaves Too Soon

This has been a real experience in my life lately. And even so today as we talked about the passing of a young man named Adam who was and is our teammate, colleague, and friend. But when a life ends too soon, we need to let the Bible speak to us. And we need to let God and His Word surround us. A few thoughts (not original with me, but I think very wise) that I hope are helpful as we seek to navigate the upcoming days.

The length of Adam's life on earth was virtually indistinguishable from the length of ours

O for eyes to see things from the standpoint of eternity!

James 4:14 - You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

2 Corinthians 4:17 - For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison
The longest life of any person on earth is like a vapor's breath on a cold winter morning. If the distance between the walls in any room represent eternity, the distance from the wall representing Adam's life, and the distance representing ours would be so infinitely small, you would not be able to see the difference with the naked eye. We will all be gone very soon. That is one of the great truths Adam was sent to teach us.

Adam is happier today than the happiest person on earth has ever been

That he missed earth's pleasures of marriage and children and food and friends do not cause him the slightest regret. He took a much shorter route to the One in whose presence is fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore. By comparison, the pleasures that Adam enjoys today make all of ours boring in the extreme.

Phillipians 1:23 - My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better
Adam was a test for your faith

James 1:2-3 : Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness
Losing Adam was not in itself a joy. It was an agonizing test. If it were not agonizing, it would be no test. But now that it has laid you low, it is a test. And what is being tested is your faith in the goodness and power and the love of God-and his call on your life. God's ways are not our ways, Adam has become the teacher and he has given the test. And may we pray as a staff, colleagues, friends, and brothers that this testing of faith, produce in all of us steadfastness.


March 19, 2007

Overcoming Sin And Temptation - Chapter 3

So John Owen, in Chapter 3, basically addresses what could be at the heart of all the problems with sin and holiness in Western Christianity. This is the chapter where he basically says "You can't do it on your own, stop trying"...

But we're America daggonit, and we have a can do attitude. We can mortify sin in our lives ourselves. We don't need the Holy Spirit, thank you very much. I can do this on my own. I'll fast, pray, give things up for Lent, dress different, put locks on the satellite dish, throw all my food away, etc...Whatever it is, I'll come up with a 9 step program to conquer that sin and there are bookshelves full of such self-help advice.

Here's what Owen has to say about all those books and about all my and your self-efforts to defeat sin in our lives:

And indeed, I might here bewail the endless, foolish labor of poor souls, who being convinced of sin and not able to stand against the power of their convictions, do set themselves, by innumerable perplexing ways and duties, to keep down sin, but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain. They combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all their days. They spend their strength for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which profits not (Isaiah 55:2)...
This is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in. A sould under the power of conviction from the law is pressed to fight against sin, but has no strength for the combat. They cannot but fight, and they can never conquer; they are like men thrust on the sword of enemies on purpose to be slain. The law drives them on, and sin beats them back. Sometimes they think, indeed, that they have foiled sin, when they have only raised a dust that they see it not; that is, they distemper their natural affections of fear, sorrow, and anguish, which makes them believe that sin is conquered when it is not touched. By that time they are cold, they must go to the battle again; and the lust which they thought to be slain appears to have had no wound."

What he's saying is: Without the power of the Holy Spirit, and a true communion with Jesus, your fight against sin is in vain because you have NOT the power to do it yourself. There are no quick fixes with sin. I hate that I'm 30 and really starting to learn this.

I've Finished Reading "Aftershock - Help, Hope, And Healing In The Wake Of Suicide"

First off, I want to preface this conversation with the fact that on January 8th, 2007, my mom took her own life by overdosing on prescription medication. She was a great woman, and a great mom. She was a single parent who did the best she could to cope with all that life threw at her. Her father died of 3rd degree burns when she was 18, she lost a baby sister to a drunk driver when she was in her early twenties, she was divorced, and she suffered from bi-polar disorder.

As I read this book (one given to me by a precious friend), I could identify with a lot of the feelings, emotions, and sentiments expressed by the folks who shared their story within it's pages. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the author of the book lives in Spartanburg, SC. I would like to meet him to thank him for providing this book. It may shock the folks who read this to learn that 85% of the US is affected by suicide and the statistics are rather alarming. Someone, if not everyone, much like divorce will be impacted by suicide at some point in time or another.

It's a good book with many good practical suggestions. I would only add to it that knowing Christ, Him Crucified, Resurrected, and Glorified, is the only lasting eternal salve that will heal an open wound left by suicide. The steps and suggestions in this book are extremely helpful and practical and would provide many helps to the wounded soul. But without Christ and the cross at the center of it, all of us are in danger of the downward spiral to where we see no hope.

Thank God and His Son everday that you have hope. It is a gift given to you by God, and you are a gift sustained by God. Thank you David Cox for this book. May it be a precious resource to those who are dealing with this "earthquake".

March 18, 2007

Overcoming Sin And Temptation - Chapter 2

A phenomenal insight by I shall chew on today:

If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we expect a comfortable event? There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world

I've Finished Reading "The Reformation - How A Monk And A Mallet Changed The World"

Overall, a good book. A short read (150 pages). The book gives very short biographical sketches of the main reformers of the 1600's and 1700's (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others)

It also talked about some of the main theological distinctives among the different Reformer groups (Lutherans, Anabaptists, Mennonites, etc).

It really was an informative read, one I would favorite part of the book was when it talked about Luther's Earthy side. And while it was his 95 Theses that changed the church forever, he was also human. After reading his biographical sketch, I feel like I can really identify with him. The book talked about the fact that Luther wasn't always proper and gave a quote that I have to include here:

But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away
What a quote!

March 16, 2007

Overcoming Sin And Temptation (Chapter 1)

Owen uses Romans 8:13 as his main text for the entire book. His main thesis is:

"The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin"
In addressing the potential for man to do this in his own strength, and not rely on the Holy Spirit to cause and effect mortification, Owen argues the following:
"Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world."
In commenting on why Paul would prescribe this duty to Christians, Owen writes:
"The mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh, is the constant duty of believers."
And finally, in discussing the promise "You shall live", Owen makes an amazing (and bold) statement, which I am finding to be more true in my life everyday...
"The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh"
It will be an interesting day, thinking about the word "duty" in those statements!

March 15, 2007

Talk About Your 9 Step Program

So I'm reading John Owen's "Of Mortification Of Sin In Believers" and in the newly revised edition, Justin Taylor lays out a synopsis of Owen's directions to the soul regarding mortification. The list is as follows:

  1. Consider whether the sin you are contending with has any dangerous symptoms attending it.
  2. Get a clear and abiding sense upon your mind and conscience of the guilt, danger, and evil of that sin
  3. Load you conscience with the guilt of it
  4. Get a constant longing for deliverance from the power of it
  5. Consider whether the sin is rooted in your nature and exacerbated by your temperament
  6. Consider what occasions and advantages your sin has taken to exert and put forth itself and watch against them all
  7. Rise mightily against the first actings and conceptions of your sin
  8. Meditate in such a way that you are filled at all times with self-abasement and thoughts of your own vileness
  9. Listen to what God says to your soul and do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but hearken what he says to your soul

So here's the don't hear this in the church of today. You're not taught to feel the weight of transgressing against a holy and infinite God. In our self-esteem crazy society, we lose the weight of sin. If the 9 directions above attended your life regularly, how less would sin rule over you?

March 14, 2007

The Doctor On The Altar Call

Certainly a topic of great interest today in many church circles. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, a great British preacher of the 20th century, was asked his thoughts about the altar call...

You can read his response here! I think you'll find it very interesting!

Hearts Are The Problem In Evangelism

My latest post in my Theology Of Evangelism class:

I've been a Christian for 10 years. I've counseled at Billy Graham crusades. I've been in churches that have done F.A.I.T.H. I've seen remnants of Evangelism Explosion. I've seen ALPHA briefly. I've seen tracts, Romans Road, Gospel tools from now till Sunday...

And I've come to one conclusion. THERE ain't a one of them that can train you to be an effective evangelist. Here's my reasons behind that.

You can make a "presentation" all you want to. But until the Gospel captures you, you are a poor reflection of the real thing and no one is going to listen to a cheap knockoff. I've seen so many folks that are "trained" in sharing their faith that don't even have the slightest ability to listen, empathize, synthesize, and knock down relational barriers with people. By by golly, they got the presentation down to a T.

So that's the dilemma isn't it. Matching up heart and head. Matching up desire and content. It's funny that when Paul went on his missionary journeys and when the apostles traveled in the early church, they didn't have a lot of "doctrine" to share. Granted, knowledge of the Old Testament to most Jewish communities was assumed and therefore, the term "Messiah" ment something. But the main message that they carried with them was "He Is Risen" and "He's Alive". And it was a powerfully simple message because the wonder of seeing Him come back from the dead was powerful and it showed in their countenance, and their radiance.

So the main problem, I believe (and I visit with hundreds of churches each year), is not so much a training the content into someone problem, as much as it is getting someone captured by the Gospel to where their life is sold out in such a radical fashion that the authenticity of their words engages and transforms the listener.

Hearts, not heads and knowledge, are the problem in Western Christianity.

Be Killing Sin Or It Will Be Killing You

These were phenomenal words written by John Owen. I'm planning on reading his book "Overcoming Sin and Temptation". If those words are any indication of what kind of book it will be, it shall be a treat!

March 13, 2007

Have You Ever Felt Ineffective Sharing Christ?

Read this article. It will definitely help!

Bottom Line: It ain't like it was....

Reformed Theology Explained

Desiring God has a great article explaining the Doctrines Of Grace (Calvinism). Well worth the time to read.

Is Christianity Guerilla Warfare?

From a posting I wrote for my Theology Of Evangelism Class

If it is true that we are in a "spiritual battle" and that there is "spiritual warfare" happening all around us...why does the church insist on "standing in open fields and lining up face to face with the enemy" like we did in the revolutionary war.

Why is it that we build bohemoth buildings, set up elephant like heirarchies, and fight the enemy as though he is willing to fight like a normal enemy?

Sin takes root in the shadowy places, in the secret places. In the homes, bars, workplaces, supermarkets, liquor stores, bowling allies..etc. So why don't we as the Christian church adapt and begin fighting a guerilla war. Quick, agile, nimble, able to move at a moment's notice. One on one, one person, one battle at a time?

Is it me or are we losing the battle because we just have simply set ourselves up for failure by the way we structure ourselves? If this world is not our home, why are we spending so many millions setting up permanent establishments?

March 12, 2007

Why The Reformation Was Successful

A great blog entry...and I didn't even write it.

I think it's dead on with the summary of why so much stuff in church today doesn't work!

I've Finished Reading "The Present Future"

Overall, a really great book by Reggie McNeal....

Here are the six wrong questions he says the church is asking:

  1. How Do We Do Church Better?
  2. How Do We Grow This Church?
  3. How Do We Turn Members Into Ministers?
  4. How Do We Develop Church Members?
  5. How Do We Plan For The Future?
  6. How Do We Develop Leaders For Church Work?
Does your church ask these questions. Because if you read this book, you're going to get a really good explanation as to why they are the wrong ones. A very challenging book. A little on the esoteric side of things and splitting some hairs on some semantics, BUT a book that I believe is fairly dead on about the future of the church...

To give you a little taste of what you will read:

I'm talking about the church world in North America. A world that has largely forsaken its missional covenant with God to be a part of kingdom expansion. It has, instead, substituted its own charter of church as a clubhouse where religious people hang out with other people who think, dress, behave, vote, and believe like them......I believe there are many people like me in the church who, in terms of their church experience, want to script a different story from the one they are a part of now

March 11, 2007

Thoughts From An Airport


Couple things. First, how cool is it to make $400 for sitting in one place vs. another. How airlines can overbook a plane, pay people to stay off of it, and still make money is a mystery to me.

Second, if I ever hear another day call his son his "boo bear", I may have to throw up on his shoes before thrashing him for both being a softy himself and encouraging his son to appreciate talk like that. Wow. If you ever need a crash course in both the silliness and sadness of humanity, there is no better place to discover it than in an airport.

As you can tell, it's foggy in Houston...

It was a good weekend in Austin. Two lessons learned.

First, never truse a GPS device. Second, never feed ducks pretzels. I wish I could share more but I may incriminate myself.

The Theology of Evangelism is going good. I'm going to read "The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal on my journey home today. Maybe some thoughts on that later today!

March 08, 2007

Missions Exists Because Worship Doesn't

That's the sentence of the day for me right there. In my seminary class, we had a reading assignment of about 90 pages and this sentence appeared in an excerpt from a book that John Piper wrote called "Let the Nations Be Glad".

His contention and the main thrust of this reading assigment was that we really don't define "missions" in a correct way and we certainly don't understand it correctly.

Here's a thought to ponder for the day:

Missions (evangelism / people getting saved) IS NOT the ultimate goal of the church. Worship Is!

March 07, 2007

What Is A World Class Christian?

So that's the question I have to answer for my Theology of Evangelism class in my MDiv program right now.

So, I'll post my answer later on, but for now here's the pertinent definitions as best as I can find them...

World Class


How would you answer this question?

March 06, 2007

OK...So Sometimes You Fall Off The Face Of The Earth

What can I say other than...that's the way it goes.

It really has been an amazing few months to say the least. And God has used some VERY interesting things to get my attention. My mother passed away in January and I've learned more about compassion and mercy than I ever have at any point in time of my life.

I've also resumed pursuing my seminary degree. In addition to what I do as a passion, life is very full right now. I hope to get back to daily posting and sharing my journey with everyone. Please hold me accountable in this as I desperately need it.

More to come in the hours, days, and months ahead. I really do hope God continues this wild journey.